Tag Archives: homeschool

FORTY-FOUR (or how Scripture can help my children)

IMG_3719His head was bent down and I could tell he was thinking because his eyelids fluttered a few seconds.  Someone had hurt his feelings, and he was trying to gain control of his emotions, and perhaps acquire a bit of understanding.  He had been wounded, and even worse, it was by one of his own.  A brother.

“I didn’t like when he told me that.”  He was playing with his fingers.  “That made me sad.”

Words not particularly profound, yet descriptive and emotionally mature from a five-year old.  His self-awareness impressed me.

I opened my mouth to comfort him, to impart words of solace, or at least empathy.  But once again, my little G spoke first.  Holding out four fingers horizontally toward me, he proffered a wan but encouraging smile.

“Forty-four, Mama.”

“Forty-four,”  I repeated smiling toward him, and I could tell he had already begun the process of healing.  In just two words he uttered greater wisdom than I would ever have given at that moment.

Well, let me explain.

For the last few years my boys have been attending a Tuesday morning gym class for homeschoolers in our area.  The gym teacher is a mom of three public school teens who developed this ministry for her church and community.  Not only does she lead a gym class weekly free of charge, but she infuses the lessons with biblical truth, friendship and Scripture memorization.  Each year she chooses a new theme verse.  In the past some themes have been “Fly like an eagle” from Isaiah 40:31, “Be still [and know that I am God] from Psalm 46:10, and “Apply your heart to instruction” from Proverbs 23:12.  At the close of each class, all the students gather together in a huddle with their hands in the middle and chant loudly the year’s theme as if it were a winning cheer.  It is cute, especially when the three to six-year olds participate.  And yet, watching G hold out his “four” I am aware of how powerful Scripture is even to the mind of a five-year old.  This year’s verse is “Rejoice in the LORD!”  Sometimes we have bad days, sometimes we do not do our best, but always there is a deep reason for rejoicing.  “Rejoice in the LORD!”  Philippians 4:4.

And there you have it.  Four, four.  Forty-four.

“Forty-four, Mama.”

The truth is this isn’t the first time G has made use of this nugget of truth, not the first time he has laid claim to this promise of treasure.  I have been reproved previously during a bad day, when I was displaying less patience and empathy than I should.  His short fingers in the shape of a four brought me right back to where I needed to be.

This, however, was the first time he had turned it on himself.  Applying Scripture to his own heart at five – I couldn’t be prouder.  Or more grateful.

Forty-four to each one of you.

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Back to School

There was a great deal of complaining last year.  Math was too difficult.  We had too much work.  The dreaded ‘B’ word was bandied about.  You know, as in, This is (gasp) boring.  

After addressing each subject separately, I began to gain some clarity: the problem did not lie with the challenging subject matter, nor the words my kids – one of them in particular, let’s be honest- chose to use.  It didn’t even primarily pertain to the unwanted behaviors.  It was a deeper, yet simpler problem.  A problem of the heart.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,  LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:34

I have often wondered why David mentions his words before his thoughts.  Jesus calls out his would-be followers, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks,” and “where your treasure is, there the heart will be also.”

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My children needed to change their thinking.  Controlling my heart, my tongue, and my thoughts are not easy for me as an adult.  How much more difficult will it be for my children? They need to see me model a desire to do so, however.

Our first week of school has passed slowly, with low expectations, incrementally adding topics and subjects.  We have read, journaled, watched the news, completed some map work, and generally re-introduced the habit of sitting down to work again (as well as introduced what it will look like in our new house.  We moved in less than two weeks ago.)

Charlotte Mason’s motto has helped us in approaching this new school year with positive guidelines.

I am.. I can… I ought… I will…

I am hoping to instill in my children a proprietary sense of their education and spiritual life. You can read here for more information about Charlotte Mason’s motto and educational philosophy.

Each day we have added to our understanding of the motto with the Bible verses suggested here.

 

I am….a child of God.  I am a person of great value because God made me.

Ephesians 2:8-10  “…For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

I can…do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  I am capable of accomplishing all I need to do.

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

I ought…. to obey God, my parents and all those who are in authority over me.

Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”

I will…decide to keep watch over my thoughts and tongue and choose what is right even if it is not what I want.

Psalm 119:30 “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws.”

We have discussed the significance of each of these points and used the verses as copywork.  We are slowly incorporating them as memory work as well.  The heavy responsibilities and expectations of the school year lighten when we are reminded how loved we are, along with an encouraging reminder that we are, indeed, capable.

Happy, Appy Friday: Geography Version

Like many homeschoolers, I suppose, Fridays are frequently field trip days.  We pack a lunch or eat out, and don’t slow ourselves down by schlepping around heavy books.  Instead, we try to read a chapter en route, take time to appreciate a brief observation in nature, and, of course make real use of our ipad.  Netflix, Youtube and a variety of learning apps have been a wonderful way for us to supplement our day, or refocus when things go awry.  The boys’ favorites are the geography apps.

All apps listed can be purchased for only $1.99 or $.99.

GeoBee Challenge HD by National Geographic

iPad Screenshot 1

Do you think  you know geography?  This will whip you in shape whether you are looking to kill a few minutes waiting in line, or seriously preparing for the National Geography Bee.  There are three types of play with this app.  The first is a series of constantly new, multiple choice questions.  The second is pinpointing the locations of countries and cities on the global map.  The third, and most challenging level, is identifying the location of unidentified photographs.  Some are landscapes, others are famous landmarks.  There is currently a problem with the second level freezing, but they should be fixing this soon.

Geomaster 2

iPhone Screenshot 1

This was our first geography app, and none of us are tired of it yet.  Geomaster quizzes you on the locations of countries, cities, regions and flags.  Not only are you timed, but you also acquire extra points the more accurate you are.  I dare you to pinpoint Djibouti, Djibouti with 100% accuracy.

Stack the States

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This is S’s favorite app.  It is probably the most visually appealing to a child, and gives plenty of incentives.  Once you sign in you are able to collect states as you answer questions on  states, capitals, flags, and landmarks.  Be careful you stack the states properly or they just might topple over.  There are different games you can open once you pass various levels.

Stack the Countries

iPhone Screenshot 1

S plays Stack the States, but A enjoys the extra challenge of Stack the Countries.  This app is set up precisely the same way but with a global focus.  Photographs of scenes from around the globe serve as the background.

A Montessori  Approach to Geography

iPad Screenshot 1

Montessori has a series of wonderful geography apps to familiarize children to maps and the globe.  With standard Montessori colors, this app teaches and quizzes the user on the shapes, names and locations of countries, continents, rivers and oceans.  The image shown is just for the Europe app.

Geography remains an important subject to study.  It allows younger students a greater understanding of who and where they are in the world.  For older ones, it facilitates a larger interest in humanity.  Geography encompasses not only the study of maps and  topography, but also anthropology, religions, politics, cultures and languages.  For my aspie, geography provides a field of study which encourages flexible thinking.  If we can accept another’s way of life across the globe as legitimate,  perhaps we can tolerate the person down the street, as well.

Primarily, however, we study geography for the same reasons we study nature and science and history : it is all part of God’s creativity.

“The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,

the world, and all who live in it;

for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”  Psalm 24:1-2

The Village, The Family

Hillary Clinton has famously quoted a supposed African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  Some homeschool groups and others have jumped on this, adding their own twist, “I have seen the village.  We choose to homeschool.”  Both quotes irritate me.  The former because it seems to fly in the face of my understanding of how the Bible describes my personal responsibility to my family.  The latter because of its disrespectful, condemning tone and sentiment.  Our boys began their school-aged years in a public school setting, yet now we are in our second year of homeschooling, and it looks like we might be here awhile.  Do I look down on families opting for public education?  No.  We were there once.  By and large, it seemed a positive experience.  Currently, the homeschool option just seems the best fit for us.  While the Bible charges my husband and me to train our children in matters of faith,  (Deuteronomy 6) I seriously doubt it has any commandments regarding English grammar or multiplying fractions.  We have just decided to tackle these lessons around the kitchen table, as well.

And yet, this post is by no means intended to be about homeschooling vs. public education.  Instead, I want to reflect on who is raising our children, whether we homeschool, send them to public, private or charter schools.

Clinton wants us to look to the ” village,” except  we don’t have a village.  We have a family.  I am often amazed at God’s design for the church.  While our love for Christ is to be lived out in the mundaneness of daily routines, and in our compassion for others, we need a sense of community.  We need a comfortable and secure place to relax.  We need others looking out for our best interests.  We need a spiritual family full of love, care and positive examples.  And He has provided one for us.  One we very much depend on.

We do not necessarily need others teaching our children manners, morals, or even Bible stories.  Our responsibility as parents is clearly written in scripture.

Never forget these commands that I am giving you today.  Teach them to your children.  Repeat them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working…Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates.”Deuteronomy 6:6-7,9

However, for my children there is great value in someone they know and respect reiterating the same values and ideals that mom and dad try to teach them.  There is value in pointing someone to Jesus.  They need encouragement.  They miss grandparents being closer.  They need to be prodded and goaded and challenged.  They need to feel unconditional love and support.  It is particularly poignant if that encouragement comes from an unexpected source.  Not a call from the Bible class teacher, but a hug from a church elder.  Not a hello from a peer, but a high-five from one of the teens.

Unfortunately, there is no photo with this post, but I have a thousand in my mind’s eye: showing up unexpectedly for a baseball game, getting down on one knee to listen to the rambling of a toddler, an invitation to come over and play, an offer for babysitting, remembering a personal accomplishment.  You know who you are.  These are things a mom appreciates.

Who is raising A, S and G?  By the grace of God, my husband and I are.  And by the grace and love of some amazing people in his church, we are thankful for their help.  I honestly don’t know if it takes a village, but we do have a family working on it.